Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “Oh LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17
In our last post, we launched into an exploration of revolutionary hope. You may recall that we described this hope as the inexplicable hope the believer derives from the promise he or she has in Jesus Christ. We also looked at the importance of having trust in God, as this is foundational to experiencing His revolutionary hope. But how do we go about building this trust? We are going to move to that next. We will begin by learning to look for the hope on which such trust depends.
The Blind Spot
If you’ve ever learned to drive, you are likely familiar with the term “blind spot.” It is a space a car temporarily occupies when traveling alongside another car. A car in this space cannot be seen by the driver of the other car either in his mirrors or with his peripheral vision. To this driver, the other car literally does not seem to exist. For it to enter her conscience, she literally would have to turn her head and look for it.
The blind-spot phenomenon is obviously an important thing for new drivers to master. Unless they are aware of it, they are at great risk of swerving right into another car. In that moment, the concrete (or metal, plastic and glass) reality of what initially was thought not to exist will become painfully extant. It’s kind of like a reverse-mirage. Rather than casting a false image of something not there, the blind spot creates a false perception of the absence of something very much there. But blind spots are more than the stuff of cars. They can be spiritual as well. We can be blind to spiritual reality just as we can be blind to material reality, and the consequences are even more dire.
The Spiritual Blind Spot
In the text we are looking at here, we find a biblical example of the spiritual blind spot. To put it in context, the prophet Elijah had been foiling the plans of the king of Aram in the king’s war against Israel by forewarning the nation of the king’s plan of attack. (As a prophet, Elijah had power to read the Arameans’ minds.) Frustrated by the prophet, the king sent an army to take Elijah out. And this brings us to our verse.
Elijah’s servant arises early in the morning, most likely to pray as was custom at the time. And he literally has a rude awakening. He awakes to the sight of a vast army of Arameans surrounding him and Elijah. His question to Elijah, while likely panic-filled, is reasonable. “What shall we do?” In fact, those of us who have found ourselves in seemingly impossible or hopeless situations can relate. But while the servant’s panic seems reasonable, Elijah’s response seems downright bizarre. He says, “do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
The servant at this point had to have been thinking: “What’s Elijah been smoking? He is clearly hallucinating. He must be seeing a mirage.” Ah, but there is nothing wrong with Elisha’s vision. He is seeing a reverse mirage. He sees what actually is there, but is hidden from the sight of others. And so, we see the problem is not with his vision, but the servant’s. The servant has a spiritual blind spot.
Open Our Eyes
Seeing his servant’s blindness, Elijah does what a man of God should. He doesn’t rebuke him for his lack of faith or chide him for his apparent lack of courage. He prays for him. “Oh LORD I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And answering Elijah’s prayer, God opens the servant’s eyes to reveal an army of angels vastly greater and more powerful than any army or collection of armies on earth.
Elijah, knowing God, demonstrates the vision of one with revolutionary hope. It is an ability to see beyond the material, beyond the immediate, and beyond the limitations and boundaries of this world. How does he do this? By keeping his focus not on the armies before him, but on the God beside Him. His relentless focus on God and his unwavering faith in God leads to supernatural vision of revolutionary hope.
You might be wondering, how does one get vision like Elijah gave his servant? Note, first and foremost, how Elijah sought vision for his servant. He did it through prayer. In times of trial, the first and best thing we can do is take the matter to God in deep, intentional prayer. If we ask Him to open our eyes, He will do so. He will give vision. Second, we need to believe and remind ourselves of what we believe. And that is that we will see Christ one day.
I find, when facing difficult or daunting circumstances, that reflecting on the day in which I will one day look upon my Creator gives me both vision and perspective in the moment. (If you need a little help imagining this, read Revelation 4). Just the thought leaves me both dumbstruck and awestruck. It is unfathomable that I will one day stand (or more likely kneel or bow down) before the God of the universe. Knowing this, for me, makes every aspect of my worldly existence melt away. Knowing this allows me to see revolutionary hope. Try it yourself. What do you experience?
Blessed Are You
Recall that the disciple Thomas, when hearing of Jesus’ resurrection, said he wouldn’t believe it until he saw Jesus in person; until Thomas felt the holes the nails left in His wrists and the wound the spear left in His side. Jesus appeared to him, fulfilled his conditions, and alas Thomas believed. But Jesus had something else to say. “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who do not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29.
Unlike Thomas, we have not seen Jesus in the flesh. We have not placed our fingers in the holes in His hands, or our hands in the wound in His side. But like Elijah’s servant, we have been invited to open our spiritual eyes and experience the fulness of His presence. As we place our trust in Him, and share our faith in His deliverance, we give vision to revolutionary hope.
Lord Jesus, we pray, open our spiritual eyes that we may see You, experience You, know You. Even as darkness surrounds us, as the evil of the day seems to overwhelm us, and as the chariots of despair assemble before us, open our eyes and help us see You and the army You lead solely for the sake of our rescue. For in You we have hope that no army of this world can conquer. Amen.